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surelyujest71 10-05-2010 06:13 PM

Sailing in foreign waters
Hey, all; I'm assuming this is the best forum for this thread to open. I haven't been able to find much information on this topic, so far.

I'm about a year (hopefully less) from getting a decent sized sailboat. Once I've learned and gained some mastery in sailing, I'm definitely going to sail to other parts of the world. I'd love to sail the coast of Japan, and stop in some of the small coastal towns, as well as see Tokyo and some of the other larger cities. I'd like to visit S. Korea, and see a number of their smaller fishing towns and islands, as well as make port at Inchon and see Seoul. I'm also interested in visiting the Philippines for awhile. After such places, then, perhaps to Australia.

My big question is, though: How do we legally enter a country's waters? Where would you get your passport stamped? Obviously, Customs would need to look over the boat, right? Yes, I'm a beginner, but I do have big plans!

So... for my future knowledge: How does one enter another country by sailing vessel?

Thanks, in advance.

surelyujest71 10-05-2010 06:19 PM

All that searching forums, and there's an article about it! lol.

However, it would be nice to know specifics for said countries.

sailingdog 10-05-2010 06:23 PM

Go to, which was started by Jimmy Cornell of World Cruising Routes fame. It has a lot of information on a lot of different countries and their legal requirements for entry, etc.

surelyujest71 10-05-2010 07:10 PM

Thanks for the link, Sailingdog. I'm sure it will come in handy in the future. The location information is good to have; it seems to lack info on such things as Visa/Passport info, tho.

Anyone who's been to these areas, I'd love to hear about your experiences.

Thanks again.

sailingdog 10-05-2010 07:49 PM

Might want to look again, :rolleyes: :confused: noonsite has SEVERAL PAGES OF INFORMATION on each country. For instance, it has this information on entering PUSAN, South Korea:


It is compulsory to call port control on VHF Channel 16 or 12 and request permission to enter the harbour. If the call is not acknowledged, the vessel should be brought alongside the Navy barge moored close to the harbour entrance. The yacht may be searched here and firearms must be declared. Although foreign yachts are supposed to employ the services of a local agent to deal with all formalities, this rule is not strictly applied and one can carry out the clearing formalities oneself. This entails visits to customs, immigration and the port authority, all of which are located within the port compound. When leaving the harbour, it is necessary to stop again at the Navy barge and hand in the clearance papers. A copy will be retained, but the originals should be kept, as clearance will have to be shown at the next port of call.
It has the following information on CLEARANCE:


Entry formalities and dealings with officials are generally difficult and time-consuming, the matters being further complicated by the fact that very few officials speak English or any other foreign language.

Because of the delicate nature of South Korea's relations with North Korea, the military authorities are extremely suspicious of any foreign vessel. Also, as it is forbidden to sail in South Korean waters at night, one should time one's arrival in daylight.

It is compulsory to clear in and out at every place and one is also likely to be stopped by various patrol boats belonging to the Navy, coastguard, marines or customs.
And this to say about Immigration/Passport information:


All vsitors must have a valid passport.

Visa regulations change frequently and although currently visitors from many countries (The E.U., USA, Canada, New Zealand, Australia) may visit for up to 90 days without a visa, it is recommended that anyone planning to visit South Korea by yacht should obtain a visa in advance.

There are South Korean embassies in most capitals and also consulates in neighbouring countries, such as Japan, where there are consulates in Kobe, Shimonoseki and Fukuoka, the latter being reported as the most efficient in granting a visa.

Check one of the following websites:- or for more information.

For those whose passports contain evidence of visits to North Korea, special permission is needed to visit, and one should apply for a visa at least one month in advance.

Extensions are difficult to obtain. If longer than a 90-day stay is planned, a special long-term visa must be obtained in advance and one will have to apply for a residence certificate at the local immigration office.
So, I'm not really sure where you got the idea that it DOESN'T HAVE INFORMATION ON VISA/PASSPORT requirements and such....


Originally Posted by surelyujest71 (Post 651439)
Thanks for the link, Sailingdog. I'm sure it will come in handy in the future. The location information is good to have; it seems to lack info on such things as Visa/Passport info, tho.

Anyone who's been to these areas, I'd love to hear about your experiences.

Thanks again.

killarney_sailor 10-06-2010 09:58 AM

Japan and South Korea are not visited by cruisers that often (although they are visited) because they are not very accessible from the normal cruising routes. Something else you should get hold of is Cornell's book, World Cruising Routes which describes typical routes from point A to point B (ie how far, waypoints to use, best season to use, season to avoid due to storms). You would use this to plan how to get to Japan from Panama or San Francisco in one step or many steps depending on the circumstance.

As for how you enter a country, it varies a lot. Couple of examples from last year for us. First of all you need to go to port of entry (see Noonsite).

1. To enter Martinique (easiest of all) you take your dinghy to town and go to the Customs office, sit down at a computer and fill out a form. You save it and print and the local official signs one copy that you keep with you. Free and takes about 3 minutes.

2. To enter Grenada, you go to the Customs office which is on the town dock and fill out a form; then you go to Immigration office in the police station and fill out some more forms; then you go to the Port Captain's office (next to Customs) and fill out another form; then you go to Customs again and give them a copy of the Immigration form. Somewhere along the way you pay some money. Takes 45 minutes and cost something like $50 as I remember.

3. To enter the US (we are Canadians), call in by phone on arrival and give them a bunch of info and get a get clearance number; within 24 hours report to the local customs and border protection with everyone onboard to finish the administrivia and (perhaps) pay some money. In our case, this involved hiring a taxi for $15 each way. With the ride to the airport took about an hour and half; total cost to be determined because we likely will need to get a new cruising permit.

Also, note that you generally have to revisit at least some of these offices when you check out of the country. US and Canada are exceptions to this rule. In many countries in Latin America you have to check into and out of each harbor you visit. In some places you cannot look after the formalities yourself and have to pay for an agent. The formalities vary and range from easy to incredibly complex, but you learn as you go and it is generally not too hard to do. We are investigating visiting China in 2112 but it is very complex as they have no procedures for visiting yachts (except in a few yacht races). You are treated as a ship and it is very costly (shipping agents, pilots, etc).

Start your research at the beginning, it will make sense as you go.

puddinlegs 10-06-2010 04:45 PM

Japan... as far as I know, you must notify and clear in each port you enter. Any local Japanese consulate will have the info you're looking for, or just call one of the information centers here:

Immigration Bureau of Japan Website

What I do know about Japan is that other than a handful of ports on the Pacific side (Nagoya, Yokohama), a couple places in Kyushu, though there are literally hundreds of small harbors, most all are set up for commercial fishing. I lived in Japan for years and thought about importing a Moore 24 or the like and cruising the Sea of Japan in the summer months. Very little wind that time of year though, and hot as well. A short'ish draft and small boat easily driven would have let me into some of my favorite villages. One thing I can say for certain is that I wouldn't want to sail anywhere around Japan after dark. The number of fishing vessels, semi permanent net structures, coastal traffic, etc... is truly amazing. Winter storms on the Sea of Japan are something to behold... huge Siberian low pressure systems move across the relatively shallow waters, pick up moisture and energy, and just rage when they hit the coast. Great for surfing, scary for being in any sort of boat.

Zanshin 10-07-2010 03:02 AM

puddinlegs - I grew up in the Kansai and am still debating with my on whether to sail to Japan and sail around parts of Honshu, Kyushu and down to Okinawa. Few foreigners have reported on what the conditions are like.
The storms in Japan Sea can be impressive indeed, I saw some from the beaches at Tottori and understood why Kublai Khan's two invasion attempts were foiled [aside: the term "Kamikaze" (divine wind) stems from these two failed invasions where storms devastated the Mongol fleets].

Did you cruise around Japan, if so, which parts?

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